How to Help a Family Member Through Drug Detox

How to Help a Family Member Through Drug Detox

Watching a family member suffer from addiction can be a devastating experience. When your loved one finally decides to stop using drugs and undergo detox it can seem like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. 


But just because your loved one wants to quit using drugs does not mean the battle is over. Before they can overcome their addiction they must first go through drug detox, a process that can be extremely draining, both physically and mentally.

Although no one wants to see a family member struggling through drug detox, now is the most important time to stay by your loved one’s side. They need you now more than ever—and thankfully, there are several things you can do to help a family member through drug detox.

Drug Detox is Not a Cure

Understand that detox is not a cure for addiction. Your loved one will have to work on many things to overcome his addiction, including modifying his behaviors, learning better ways to cope with stress, and addressing the underlying emotional and psychological issues that have lead to him to use drugs in the first place.

This journey through drug detox is the beginning for your loved one. It will hopefully be the start of a new life free of addiction—but just completing this first step is not enough.

Get Expert Help for Your Drug Detox 

Don’t attempt home detox without consulting a doctor or detox facility. Some drugs are not safe to detox from without professional supervision at a detox facility. Call your doctor or your nearest detox center to find out if a home detox is a safe option and, if so, what you can do to prepare.

Imagine your loved one taking this important step toward recovery, only to end up sick, injured, or dead. Drug detox should only ever be undertaken under medical supervision, so make sure you have the expert help your family member needs.

You May Need Time Off

Be prepared to take time off or have people help you. The first few days of detox can be intense, both physically and mentally. Not only will your family member be experiencing painful physical withdrawal symptoms, but he’ll also be combating powerful cravings.

It’s best to spend as much time with your loved one as possible during these difficult first days to ensure he/she withdraws safely and without relapsing. Be prepared to take time off from work and have someone watch your children or elderly parents while your focus is on your loved one.

Be Prepared for Physical and Emotional Discomfort and Even Pain

Help your loved one manage the physical pain and discomfort of withdrawal as much as possible—with the understanding that no one can take all of those symptoms away. Only time relieves them entirely. Your loved one will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms, depending on the type of drug used, how much of the drug is abused, and how long he has been taking the drug.

These symptoms will range from mild to severe and can include flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, and hot and cold sweats. Your loved one may also become anxious, irritable, extremely tired and have difficulty sleeping.

Help Your Loved One Alleviate Symptoms

You can help alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms by making your family member as comfortable as possible. You can do this by providing him a comfortable, quiet place to rest; gently massaging or rub any painful areas; drawing him a hot bath; giving him over-the-counter medications such as anti-diarrhea and pain reliever medicines, etc. If withdrawal symptoms are severe, contact your doctor right away.

Encourage your loved one to engage in self-care. This not only helps relieve immediate symptoms but also assists them in building healthier habits for tomorrow. Ensure that they eat and drink the right types of food and liquid. If your loved one is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or fever, it’s very important to make sure they do not get dehydrated. Encourage them to drink lots of fluids (about 2 liters a day), and eat light, easy-to-digest foods such as soup, noodles, rice, vegetables and fruit.

Fighting Cravings

Help distract your loved one from any cravings they experience. Intense cravings often arise during the detox process and can be one of the biggest threats to your family member’s sobriety. If your family member is experiencing cravings, help distract them by doing activities such as watching a movie, playing cards, walking, etc. You can also help by simply listening your loved one vent their frustrations and fears.

Maintain a Recovery-Friendly Environment

The ability to recovery relies upon the right environment. That means staying away from destructive people with dangerous habits. Keep toxic people away from the home. Whether it’s a friend who’s a bad influence or a family member who causes stress and arguments, discourage people from contacting your family member while they are detoxing.

Above All, Be Patient

This process isn’t easy for anyone, including you. Be patient, with the process, your family member, and yourself. Your loved one is going through an intense physical and mental process that may make them difficult to deal with. The good news is that this won’t last for long (most detox periods last between a few days and a few weeks). Be patient with your loved one and try not to take anything personally.

If you have any questions about how to help a family member through drug detox, call Casa Palmera.



This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.